Thursday, 24 March 2011

Lord have mercy

My calves are like rocks! And while that's a good thing I guess, I've taken a day off from exercise. Don't worry - I'll be back at it tomorrow plus doing loads of walking in Basel over the weekend.

BTW, if my father is reading this - that client of yours would have been from the Kingdom of Mustang (pronounce MooSTANG) which also looks like a great place to visit in Nepal. Apparently they only get about 3000 trekkers per year at the moment and only opened up to the outside fairly recently. The key is to go soon before the transport links improve and the culture is sullied.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Brilliant News!

This just in - just off the phone with Kelsey from BP and Bletchley Park support this madcap idea! As soo as I get the quotes to them we will set up the fundraising page. :-)

Now I just have to formulate my press release and my proposals for corporate sponsorship. If you work for a company and would like to make a large donation to sponsor me to do a silly stunt at EBC, get in touch! Do you work for Jimmy Choo? I'll carry a pair of your heels there and be photographed wearing them at EBC. Or I'll carry your company flag and be photo'd with it. Or wear your company t-shirt.#

We all know what I am*, it's simply a matter of establishing the price.

* An IT contractor!

Reading Material

I've been studying the Lonely Planet guide to Trekking in the Himalaya like it was the Torah! It's a really good source of info covering 30 great treks of the Himalaya, equipment, weather, culture, getting around, all sorts of stuff. I highly recommend it.

Incidental Benefits

So I'm doing about 1500 steps per day each way (67 flights * 23 steps) 4 days/week. I'm not in pain exactly but my tushy/upper thighs feel a little sore when I'm actually climbing.

But that said, I went to some talks from EMC this afternoon at the Atomium which is all stairways and I was just dashing up and down them while the suits (I mean the other attendees) were frankly lagging. Result!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

More shopping

OK, so I got those boots yesterday. And they are awesomely comfy. The only problem is, they go with NOTHING in my wardrobe.

So I'll just have to get myself some trekking/cargo pants and some smart/casual tops.

Monday, 21 March 2011

This may actually happen!

I'm finally getting quotes coming in from reputable trekking companies for the dates I want instead of them just trying to talk me into doing it in October.

Mission accomplished

Went to Kathmandu and bought a good pair of Salomon boots as well as antimicrobial hiking socks. Didn't cost the world either at £120.


I have to be honest here, although I have a list of equipment that I need to bring, I have absotootinglutely no idea what brands to buy or any other specifics.

The most worrying aspect of this is that I don't know which hiking boots to get. All I know is that they should have deep lugs and gore-tex. Which leaves a great deal of scope to screw up and this is such a key item of the gear. And they vary in price from ~£50-£250!

I know what's going to happen - I'm going to have to sheepishly go into a store Kathmandu or Berghaus and admit what I'm doing that I have no clue and then lay myself open to their mercy in making a recommendation. And I have to do it soon because I need to start breaking them in by wearing them one day a week. The last thing I need on the trek is to get blisters and have to hire a yak to carry me up or something.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Let's talk about fitness

You should be aware that I'm not planning to just rock up and expect to be able to do this challenge. A certain amount of physical preparation is necessary. In order to do this trek successfully, I will need to improve my strength, my endurance, and my oxygen uptake.

So how can I do this within my already hectic schedule? Here's the plan...

1. My office is on the 9th floor (10th to Americans). I am now exclusively using the stairs and have worked my way up to ~1500 steps (plus another ~1500 going DOWN which is equally important).

2. Starting next week I will add a backpack with bottles of water for weight to my stairwalking regime.

3. I need to start swimming 3x/week. I'm planning to have a word with the manager of the Sheraton next door to my office to see if they will let me use their pool for my training. I know myself and if I have to schlep to somewhere inconvenient to swim, I won't. Plus, this thing is already expensive enough without tacking on another 5-70 Euros/month for a gym

4. I need to get some practice in during long hikes. I'll have a word with my MP, Simon Hughes, to see if I can use his cottage in Wales for a few weekends so that I can practice on Mt. Snowdon. The goal would be to do the long route which is about 10 hours twice over a weekend but I'll start off on an easier route.

5. I'll have to quit smoking again. ::sigh:: I haven't picked my quit date yet but I'm thinking some time in either June or July.

I know that all of this sounds woefully inadequate, but I honestly can't see anything else that I can do to prepare. I'll just have to hope that it's enough!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

A bit of introspection

You know it's funny but I think that my desire to do this trip is a sure sign of just how good my life is. Honestly, who the hell chooses to do exercise and suffer in torrential rain with leeches and subsist on fucking lentils for 2 weeks? Only people who do not regularly have hardship in their lives.

My next bright idea

So as I'm looking into trekking companies, I notice that several of them offer fund-raising options for charity. This, I thought, is a brilliant idea. It means that I can reduce the cost to do this (which is not inconsiderable ~£2k!) and do a good deed. The way it works is that I kick in about £350 and make up the rest via fund-raising and must also raise at least the equivalent in donations.

This is especially important as it's probably going to cost about £1000 just to buy the equipment and cover incidentals like tips.

The problem is that the trekking companies I've found who do this do not offer a trek in August. So I need to set something up. I've spoken to Kelsey at Bletchley Park who is, of course, very supportive and already knows me from my other fund-raising activities for Bletchley but needs to fnd out how this would work as far as Gift Aid is concerned. I think that if we follow the rules I outlined above then we should be ok and the costs to do the trek would be treated as any other costs for a fundraiser.

As soon as we know then I'll book a trek and get the Just Giving page set up.

How long does it take?

Evidently it takes at least 2 weeks to get up and down from Base Camp in order to deal with the altitude. So while there's only 2-6 hours per day of hiking, one has to pace oneself, stay hydrated, climb high, sleep low, and take a rest day or so. So at a minimum, including at least one day either side to get to and from Kathmandu, this will take ~16 days. In actual fact, I'm hoping to include a small side trip that will add another day to the trek. Details to follow when I've got everything booked.

That, of course, was another concern for me but my client have been fantastic and just said to book the general time and when my plans firm up keep them updated. My boss did Kilimanjaro when he was younger so he's behind me all the way.

Phew! Getting time off was my biggest worry.

How to get there?

Obviously one of the first things I looked into was costs and timings. Unfortunately it seems that my window of opportunity (the latter half of August) coincides with the end of monsoon season.

So I can look forward to leeches, rain, and possible landslides and bridges washed away.

Also, there are very few organised treks at that time of year. Obviously.

Also, in my original plan, I was going to fly to Beijing then get trains to Xian and thence to Llhasa so that I could combine my love of great train journeys with a 3 day acclimatisation to the altitude. Brilliant plan, right? Well, it's a good thing that I'm doing a great deal of research because I discovered that they pipe extra oxygen into the train so I would still have to get used to the altitude at the end of the journey. Back to Google then.

The background

So here I am, having idly toyed with the idea of going to Everest Base Camp for the past 15 years. Added to that, I like to do something special every year to really celebrate my birthday. So it really should come as no surprise that last weekend I decided this is it, I'll do it this year. I'll spend my birthday at Everest Base Camp.

Let the planning begin!